April 22, 2009

Pay It Forward

Sometimes in life we have the chance to meet someone who makes a difference in our lives. Someone who touches us in a way that no one else can. Our family has had several such encounters. We have been blessed by the generosity and kindness of others more times than I can think. There are two instances that stick out clearly in my mind. Though they are personal in nature, I would like to share with you the feelings that we felt, because that is what is really important. It isn't so much what the person did, but the reason they did it, and how it made us feel.

I remember in both instances telling the individuals involved that we would never forget their kindness/generosity towards our family and both times we were told that for them it was an honor and a privilege to be able to help us. I remember saying something like, "we can never repay you for what you have done for us", and in both circumstances, though completely different in nature, the response was, "the way that you can repay us it to serve others. Any time you have the opportunity, serve. Help some one else in need. That service can be a smile, taking someone dinner, watching children, giving someone a ride, anything, just pay it forward."

I remember at the time thinking, "yeah, right, sure, whatever." But as time has gone by I have found myself in situations where I have been able to serve. I'm not talking about the calling in church, or anything like that, but actually giving of my time and doing something for someone else. It is an amazing feeling. I never really knew that it could feel so good. I actually look for ways to help other people. Sometimes due to other circumstances I'm not able to help, but when I can I do.

The past couple of weeks I've been helping a friend out by taking one of her children to a class that she has across town. I know that I am really helping this mother out by doing this, but more that anything, it is helping me out. I really look forward to Tuesday afternoons. This little girl loves to talk and we have some of the funnest conversations in the car. I never know what she will say next, but by the end of our 10-15 minute car ride, she has taught me something. Yesterday when I picked her up after class I pulled two small flowers off a bush (they smelled so good that I couldn't resist). I gave one to this little girl and she smelt it and said that it was her big sister's birthday and that flower would make a wonderful present for her sister. When I took her home and went inside with her the first thing she did was give her sister the flower and say happy birthday. This small act of kindness really touched my heart and I realized then that sometimes what we do doesn't have to be big but it can still make a difference. I'm thankful to that little girls mother for letting me be the one to take her daughter to class. Next week is the last week and after that I'm going to miss our rides together.

I know this is a long post, but I want to summarize a story that I just came across this morning as I was cleaning out drawers.

There was a man who drove a cab for a living. It was about 2:30 AM and he went to pick up a customer. There was just a dim light on in the home, and it wasn't in the best part of town. Some drivers would just honk and if no one came out they would drive off....he actually went up to the door to get the customer. It ended up being an old woman in her 80's, but who was dressed like it was 1940.
All the furniture in the home was covered and you could tell that she was leaving her home for the last time. She had a small suitcase and the cab driver carried it and helped her to his cab. She gave him the address on a small piece of paper and said that she was going to a hospice because the doctor had told her she couldn't live alone any longer and that she didn't have long to live.
At that point the cab driver turned off the meter and asked what route she would like for him to take. They drove through town for the next two hours or so. They stopped at her home where she grew up as a child, she showed him the first home she had with her husband when they were newlyweds (he was now deceased). She had him go to a furniture warehouse that use to be a dance hall when she was a young girl. They drove through neighborhoods and she would just stare into the darkness and say nothing at all. After a time she told him she was tired and ready to go. So he took he to the address and two nurses came out with a wheelchair and got her and began to take her inside. The cab driver bent down and hugged her. She held onto him for a long time and then told him, "you've given an old woman a moment of joy tonight, thank you."
The cab driver didn't pick up anymore customers that day. He just drove around thinking about the old woman. What if he wasn't the one to pick her up? What if he was in a hurry to get home? As he thought he realized that he probably hadn't done anything more important in his life than what he did that night for that woman.

As people we are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments, but great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what we do for them or what we may say, but they will always remember how we made them feel.

Just remember to always try to pay it forward!

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I'm so glad you enjoy driving her as much as you do! Because YES --you are helping me so very, very much, and I really, really appreciate it.

Loved this post, btw...